Lecture 3: Children of Albion

Part 1Paper 4: English Literature and its Contexts 1830-Present. 

(2.4.9) Countercultural Writing 1950-1999

Dr. James Riley

Lecture 3 Children of Albion: Michael Horovitz and Harry Fainlight
Children of Albion: Poetry of the ‘Underground’ in Britain (Penguin, 1969).


1. Children of Albion
2. Michael Horovitz: ‘Spring Welcomes You to London (1965)
                                Soho Awakening’ (1965)
3. Harry Fainlight: ‘Larksong’ (1964)

Underground: “Of or pertaining to a subculture which seeks to provide radical alternatives to the socially accepted or established mode; spec. manifested in its literature, music, press, etc.” (OED).

The Wild Hawthorn Press bloomed in Edinburgh, whilst Lee Harwood travelled through Night Scene, Night Train, Soho, Horde, Darazt & Tzarad. Poetmeat sprang up – with Screeches for Sounding in Blackburn, Dust was raised in Leeds, a Phoenix in Liverpool, Outburst in Hackney, New Voice in Kent; Migrant from Worcester – Move from Preston – Eleventh Finger from Brighton – Origins / Diversions from Carshalton – Whisper & shout from Derby … The Resuscitator in Wessex!
                                                       ----(Michael Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’ in Children of Albion, p. 325.).

The aural, visual and situational elements combine with the unpredictable interaction between manifold performers and auditors to throw up a theatre on the spot – transcending the old form of theatre because what is happening is really happening!
                                                       ----(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p.328).

Invocation key:

Sigmatic (Sigma) ----- Alexander Trocchi ----- Network
New Departures ----- Horovitz ----- Magazine/ Events
Residu ---- Dan Richter ---- Magazine
Better Books ---- Bob Cobbing / Barry Miles --- Book shop
Moving Times ---- Trocchi ---- Sigma newspaper / magazine
New Directions ----- James Laughlin ---- Publisher
City Lights ----- Lawrence Ferlinghetti ---- Publisher 
Olympian (Olympia) ----- Maurice Girodias ----- Publisher

England! awake! awake! awake!
            Jerusalem thy Sister calls!
Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death,
            And close her from thy ancient walls?

Thy hills &valleys felt her feet,
            Gently upon their bosoms move:
Thy gates beheld sweet Zion’s ways:
            Then was a time of love.

And now the time returns again:
            Our souls exult,& London’s towers
Receive the lamb of God to dwell
            In England’s green & pleasant bowers.

(William Blake, ‘Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion’ [1804], Jerusalem ed by E.R.D. Maclagan and A.G.B. Russell (1904), p.77). 

In the light of Jerusalemic mythology, catalysts like Ferlinghetti, heralds like Corso and a high-priest like Ginsberg were indeed called for to revive Albion today. England had need of Miltonics – strong confident voices, to purge the atmosphere of slick or ambiguous non-sounds. She seemed the veritable ‘fen of stagnant waters’ – her obtaining philosophies sunk in ‘irritable reaching after fact and reason’ – controlled by logical and linguistic analysis; her arts in the anxious vicelike grip of surface naturalism, & posey tied down by abstract law, the type of Urizen (‘Your Reason + the Greek ‘limiting power’) – unregenerate commonsensical enemies of light. Her literary giants mere Goliaths of advertising, her brightest sparks in the deathly stupor of materialism.
                                                                                                          ---(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p. 344.).

[…] He (Fainlight) dedicated his ‘Larksong’ specifically to English poets – to rouse up whole galaxies of song – the poem a machine to outlive the most insolent raids on inner and outer space.

The effect of culture has never been so direct and widespread as it is amongst the international class of disaffiliated young people, the provotariat. Consequently, art itself has seldom been closer to its violent and orgiastic roots. What has happened is that the pressure of restriction preceding nuclear suicide has precipitated a biological reflex compelling the leftist element in the young middle class for the reaffirmation of life by orgy and violence. What is happening is an evolutionary convulsion rather than a reformation. Young people are not correcting society. They are regurgitating it. 
                                            ---(Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture, 1968, p. 9.).

Professor Leavis said:

…Poetry matters because of the kind of poet who is more alive than most people, most alive in his own age. He is, as it were, the most conscious point of the race in his time. 
                                                                                  ---(Horovitz, ‘Afterwords’, p.373).


Horovitz, Michael (ed.), Children of Albion: Poetry of the ‘Underground’ in Britain (Penguin, 1969).
Horovitz, Wordsounds and Sightlines: New and Selected Poems (New Departures,1994).
Nutall, Jeff, Bomb Culture (Paladin, 1968).
Fainlight, Harry, Sussicran (Turret, 1965).
Fainlight, Selected Poems ed. by Ruth Fainlight (Turret, 1986).
Whitehead, Peter (ed.) Wholly Communion (Lorrimer, 1966). 


Alexander Trocchi and The Sigma Portfolio.

In August 1964 Alexander Trocchi, author and self-styled ‘cosmonaut of inner space’ attempted to submit an unusual document to the London Underground Transport Authority. [i] Entitled The Moving Times, the document in question was a large broadsheet poster featuring text by Jeff Nuttall, William Burroughs, Kenneth White, Robert Creeley, Trocchi himself and an extract from Antonin Artaud.[ii] The poster was designed to mimic the style of a newspaper and as Trocchi had explained two years earlier, the idea was to ‘rent an advertisement panel in (say) four of the London Underground stations for a trail period of one year’ in order to display the poster alongside existing advertising material.[iii] Concurrent with this proposal, a large-scale guerrilla distribution campaign was also outlined which aimed to distribute copies of the poster in bars and coffee shops throughout London.[iv]

The publication of The Moving Times was part of what Trocchi called Project Sigma. Initiated in 1962, this was the focus of much of Trocchi’s work until 1977 and operated as ‘a tactical experiment in metacategorical interaction’, an attempt to establish an international network of countercultural activism.[v] The targets of this envisaged cultural revolt were the media, universities and workplaces: socially based institutions and structures perceived as limiting the free expression of the individual as a consequence of their control over existing channels of communication. Sigma’s intended ‘coup de monde’ would emerge not from a frontal attack but from a subversive ‘outflanking’ of these identified centres of power. Existing social networks would be manipulated rather than rejected in order to highlight conceptual loopholes, exposing to the individuals involved in Sigma how for example, ‘the conventional media contain the seeds of their own ineffectuality’.[vi] To facilitate this movement of revolt, Trocchi regarded as vital the maintenance of ‘effective communications’ between project participants.[vii] A key aspect of Sigma was an emphasis on self-publishing, hence, The Moving Times. For Trocchi, this activity was a means of ‘seizing the grids’ of cultural expression through a removal of the mediating presence of censors, editors and ‘the traditional trap of publishing house policy’.[viii] The texts Trocchi produced under the banner of Sigma were circulated to the individuals involved in the project on a subscription basis.[ix] The Moving Times was included in this postal distribution, alongside other important essays such as ‘The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds’ and ‘Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint’. An interactive network was established through the extension of an invitation to recipients to make their own contributions in response to this material. The resulting and projected ‘multi-focal, heterogeneous ‘interpersonal logbook’’ was referred to as The Sigma Portfolio.[x] 
           Amongst the critics who have investigated Trocchi’s work, Project Sigma has been acknowledged as either a heroic attempt which failed due to an inability to realise its grand plans, or as John Calder has argued a largely hyperbolic and ill-thought-out diversion which allowed Trocchi to avoid writing a sequel to Cain’s Book.[xi] Each of these assessments is based on the argument that whilst the project promised much, it produced little; it remained as Mick Farren notes a continual ‘pipedream’.[xii] In contrast to these perspectives, a defence and re-assessment of Project Sigma could be developed based specifically around an analysis of the content and function of the Sigma Portfolio, that which Gavin Bowd has called the project’s ‘one concrete achievement’.[xiii] 
         In brief, one could argue that the reading of Project Sigma as producing no ‘results’ highlights a misinterpretation of the project itself and also disregards the integral role of the textual portfolio in the creation of a countercultural network. Whilst critics such as Jim Backhaus have defended Project Sigma on the basis of its influence on subsequent countercultural movements such as The Luther Blisset Project, it is possible to perceive the portfolio as manifesting in itself many of Sigma’s intended aims.[xiv] As a collection of documents including The Moving Times, the portfolio does not function merely as a printed ‘manifesto’ nor a newsletter informing the reader of acts yet to occur or taking place elsewhere but instead exists as a direct performance of Trocchi’s concepts.[xv]
In addition, the manner in which Trocchi attempted to disseminate The Moving Times on the London Underground can also be seen as indicative of how Sigma regarded and positioned itself as an ‘underground’ movement in relation to ‘mainstream’ society.


           Project Sigma grew out of Trocchi’s involvement with the Situationist International. He met Guy Debord in 1955 in Paris whilst editing the literary journal Merlin and Debord acknowledged Trocchi as a founding and active member of the group.[xvi] The ‘Invisible Insurrection’ essay appeared in International Situationiste Review number 8, in January 1963. However, Debord expelled Trocchi soon after on account of the proposed inclusivity of Sigma and his association with individuals such as Allen Ginsberg and Colin Wilson who as Greil Marcus notes, Debord regarded with disdain.[xvii] Despite this division, the influence of the situationists pervades the texts of the Sigma Portfolio. Trocchi includes a piece entitled ‘Manifesto Situationiste: project sigma edition’ a translation of a Debord text.[xviii] ‘Potlatch’, the name given to the Letterist Internationale periodical is also used as the title of a document outlining the model of distribution and response intended for the portfolio. In addition, within ‘Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint’, Trocchi elaborates upon his notion of the ‘spontaneous university’ or Sigma Centre.[xix] Regarding established educational institutions such as Cambridge as ‘hopelessly geared and sprocketted to the cultural-economic axles of the status quo’, the spontaneous university was presented as an alternative operating ‘unofficially at a supranational level’.[xx] This ‘experimental laboratory’ was to have been located on the outskirts of London in order to be within ‘striking distance of the capital’ and to exist also as a ‘shadow reality’ to Oxbridge.[xxi] Its main role was to act as a 

‘Community as art…exploring the possible functions of a society in which leisure is the dominant fact…in which the conventional assumptions about reality and the constraints they imply are no longer operative’.[xxii]

          Additionally, whilst a physical building was sought to house the university, Trocchi proposed a custom made structure designed ‘for and around the participants’, thereby moving away from his perception of much institutional architecture as a ‘that which reinforces conventional functions, conventional attitudes’.[xxiii] Trocchi’s desire to establish this ‘leisuredome’ and explicit awareness of the psychological influence of physical constructions sees him keying into important situationist concepts. As both Bowd and Backhouse have noted we see distinct reflections of the ‘ludic topography’ central to Constant’s New Babylon and the ‘unitary urbanism’, explored by Debord through the concepts of Derive and Psychogeography, the ‘study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not on the emotions and behaviour of the individual’.[xxiv]

This particular line of influence, however, emphasising the architectural and spatial ambitions of the project also provides the main grounds for criticism of Sigma. In an account which has come to dominate many considerations of Sigma’s legacy, Nuttall writing in Bomb Culture states that the closest Trocchi came to instigating his ‘cultural jam session’ was an enormously chaotic weekend conference at Braziers Park, a Quaker retreat near Oxford, in 1964.[xxv] In addition, the nearest relative to the proposed Sigma centre, Joseph Berke’s Anti-University, established in London in 1968 at which Trocchi lectured on Sigma was similarly short-lived.[xxvi] In response, it is worth noting Trocchi’s expressed internationalism in relation to the Sigma Centre; his intention to situate multiple centres ‘near the capitals of many countries’.[xxvii] Whilst Trocchi did not gain worldwide coverage, neither Nuttall, Battista nor Paul A. Green acknowledge the achievements of the Dutch poet Simon Vikenoog. In 1966, acting as Sigma’s ‘Lieutenant’ Vikenoog gained funding from Amsterdam’s Department of Art Affairs in order to open the Sigma Centrum based specifically on Trocchi’s model.[xxviii]

In addition to this, looking form a more theoretical perspective, although Trocchi does place emphasis on the need for a physical base for the spontaneous university, it is intended to function only as a ‘fountainhead’, used to store ‘tools and dream machines’, printing presses and duplication equipment.[xxix] On the evidence of Trocchi’s essay the university itself is envisaged more as a ‘conflux of creative ideas’ than as an actual building.[xxx] It is conceived as:

‘An experimental situation in which the personnel itself is to be regarded as an  artefact, a continuous making, a creative process, a community enacting itself in its individual members’.[xxxi]

The spontaneous university is thus ‘spontaneous’ precisely because it emerges as and when the individual participants intersect. As Trocchi states in the portfolio entry ‘Project Sigma: Cultural Engineering’: ‘Sigma does not exist except for those who are in it’.[xxxii] In relation to this, Trocchi does not see his role in the project as that of a tutor, mentor or guru, but instead identifies himself as a ‘pamphleteer’ charged with instigating the necessary ‘meeting of minds’.[xxxiii] The primacy here given to the pamphlet, the text, in the establishment of a network suggests that for sigma, the goal of an ‘international conference’ does not emerge solely from the construction of an institution housed in a specific place but rather as a result and in the very act of document exchange between individuals.[xxxiv] From this perspective then, in an echo of how the authors of the Arts Action Academia manifesto conceptualise underground publications, the collected texts of Trocchi’s portfolio supersede the physical university becoming in themselves ‘a meeting and rallying point, a space for cultural events’.[xxxv]

The operation of this interaction can be observed amongst the collated texts. Trocchi began the Portfolio with a letter, dated July 1964, which was sent to a variety of artists, writers and intellectuals ranging from Anthony Burgess to Timothy Leary. The letter outlined the project and ‘hoped to inspire contributions’. [xxxvi] A month later Trocchi received an essay entitled ‘Psychotherapy: The Present Situation’ from the ‘anti-psychiatrist’, R.D. Laing.[xxxvii] Arguing for the necessity of ‘an authentic meeting with patients’, Laing states that to be effective, psychotherapy must involve the ‘pairing down of all that stands between individuals’, patient and therapist, ‘all the props, the masks, the roles, the lies, the defences’. The practice must become aware of the organic relationship between individuals, the fact that ‘the behaviour of one person is a function of the behaviour of the other’.[xxxviii] Around the same time, Trocchi also received a submission from the San Francisco –based poet Michael McClure. This was an extract from his 1963 book Meat Science Essays, entitled ‘Revolt’.[xxxix] Although obviously working from a different context and with different motivations, McClure’s essay with its valorisation of organicism and a conceptualisation of revolt as a ‘mammal howl’, a cellular action, establishes significant links with Laing’s piece.[xl] Both essentially encourage a realisation of that which is natural, instinctual and perhaps even animalistic in the individual. They each evoke what has been termed the ‘new consciousness’; a movement back to an original, primal consciousness which Robert Bond has identified in much countercultural writing.[xli] This is the type of thematic link which Trocchi hoped would be would be recognised by anybody who read the assembled documents. However, in addition to the presentation of parallel works, the mechanism of the portfolio was such that ‘every nuclear participant would be provided with the entire file’.[xlii] Subsequently, through this system of duplication and distribution functioning almost as a type of immediate feedback, Laing would receive a copy of McClure’s work and vice versa. The Portfolio thereby establishes ‘the construction of situations’ as interpreted by Howard Slater as it works at this level to ‘create new social relations…in order to explore other means of expression’, expression here meaning ‘undisciplined creativity’.[xliii] The creativity highlighted can be considered ‘undisciplined’ as the portfolio shows similar lines of thought developing and overlapping between different epistemological fields. In the case of Laing and McClure, we see that psychiatry and poetry, the creative groups which were unable to gel when assembled at the Nuttall described conference, appear to merge seamlessly when positioned within the portfolio’s textual zone. As Trocchi notes, the portfolio creates a community as it offers ‘support’, as individuals’ working in disparate disciplines are provided with ‘conscious recognition that they are not alone.’[xliv]

To advance this reading further it is worth pausing to consider another of Trocchi’s stated recipients. We are told in the ‘List of Interested Persons’ that Trocchi had sent the Sigma material to Wallace Berman.[xlv] Berman was an extremely influential yet relatively unknown artist who was active in Los Angles and San Francisco from the mid fifties until around 1970. Trocchi knew and worked with Berman during stay in the Venice Beach from August 1958 to April 1959.[xlvi] Berman worked in a variety of media creating assemblages from found materials, but like Trocchi he was also a tireless networker. From 1955 onwards he produced the assemblage magazine Semina which ran for 9 issues. According to Rebecca Solnit each edition usually comprised of ‘a small folder or envelope containing poems, photographs, calligraphy and artwork’ which brought together diverse elements in compound ways that would bear fruit’.[xlvii] Audiences receiving the small collections were invited to ‘find affinities and discover a continuing tradition’.[xlviii] Alongside Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School, also instigated in 1955, Semina has been seen as a precursor to what has become known as the mail art movement.[xlix] This practice which involves artists circulating their work to each other via the postal system in a so-called ‘eternal network’, aims to as Guy Blues states, ‘democratise, decentralise and dematerialise artistic production’.[l] In theory, mail art suggests that anybody from anywhere can participate regardless of their level of skill or expertise. For Berman there is an added level of significance in that the transportation of the artefact through the postal system equates to a metaphysical art. The piece is transformed and carries the mark of this transformation through the acquisition of stamps, postmarks and the sense that it has passed through several hands, ‘absorbing energies’.[li]  For Robert Duncan, this aspect of Semina identified it as a ‘cult’ magazine in the sense that in its dissemination it ‘cultivated’ something. Semina was not necessarily ‘concerned with good writing’ he explains, but with defining ‘some new life way…a new way of feeling’.[lii]

In order to explain the specifics of this ‘new life way’ we must return to the Letterist document I mentioned earlier, Potlatch, which in turn, due to Trocchi’s usage leads us back into the orbit of Sigma. For Georges Bataille ‘potlatch’ signified a ‘gift economy’. Taking his cue from Marcel Mauss, Bataille describes ‘an archaic, ritualised and festival-based form of exchange which excludes all bargaining’.[liii] The gift of riches is given with the intention to humiliate a rival. This humiliation can only be effaced by the donee through the return of a more valuable gift, a return with interest.[liv] Potlatch for Bataille then signifies a continual process of expenditure. This frequently self-destructive activity exists at odds with so-called ‘conventional’ systems of exchange in which ‘all individual effort in order to be valid must be reducible to the fundamental necessities of production and conservation’.[lv] Berman’s Semina aligns with Bataille’s schema in that the unique and hand-made quality of each issue spoke directly to the reader of its labour intensive creation. However, at the same time each Semina was fragile and ephemeral. They were not designed to be preserved or archived. Semina could also not be bought, it was a gift which in many ways was worthless, therefore the only way to ‘repay’ Berman was through the offer of a similar gift or artefact intended as a contribution to a future issue.[lvi] In its adoption by the Letterist Internatinale, Potlatch was reinterpreted with an emphasis placed on the production and circulation of a discourse rather than an artefact. The group conceptualised their publication as an ‘offering of non-saleable goods, previously unpublished desires and questions’.[lvii] In the same way that Berman’s work encouraged the creation of an object similar to that offered, the Letterist stated that ‘only a through analysis’ of their presented material could constitute a return gift.[lviii] In each case then the recipient is motivated to a response. Although each of the models outlined do not match the destructive excesses described by Bataille both function to disturb the position of the recipient as passive consumer of another’s work either in the form of goods or information 

In the case of the Sigma Portfolio, Trocchi’s usage of the concept acts as an amalgamation of these two models. As with the Letterist magazine, in order to respond one must directly participate. All responses whether essays, reports or letters are identified as contributions which are taken up, whirlwind like into the developing network. This progressive accumulation designates that in theory there is no possibility of any one-piece officering a full definition of the project, but instead, like the continual expenditure of the potlatch, the portfolio is subject to a continual process of ‘becoming.’[lix] Subsequently, in a mirroring of Semina’s resistance to conservation, the portfolio cannot be merely filed and stored but as highlighted, it exists through circulation, by remaining an active discursive space. Similarly, although pieces such as ‘a tactical blueprint’ are suggestive of a degree of utility, we see that as with Semina, the main aim is to promote an ‘interplay of action and reaction’.[lx] As Trocchi suggested in a private letter, the documents which make up the portfolio do not necessarily work to ‘explain’ ideas to the reader but instead function to ‘implane’ and ‘implicate’ them in to the project.[lxi] As the portfolio ‘implanes’, ‘unfolds’ in the sense of both opening in the hands of the reader and growing as a result of response, the recipient is implicated, ‘interwoven’ into it.[lxii]

This emphasis on communication as ‘engagement’ and ‘participation’ provides an angle from which to perceive the practical subversion carried out by the portfolio. From Trocchi’s perspective, the established networks of communication which dominate Western society are organised as a series of hierarchical binaries.[lxiii] Information is conveyed via the maintenance of pyramidical relationships such as those existing between tutor and students, performer and audience, sender and recipients. The mechanism of the portfolio works to confuse these polar distinctions as the Sigma contributors simultaneously occupy each of the diametrically opposed positions. Each participant in the portfolio acts as a tutor to and student of all the other individuals involved. In addition to the promotion of this interaction, the creation of an alternative model of communication also produces a degree of contrast. Although heavily reliant upon the postal service to facilitate its distribution, the open field network which the portfolio creates serves to, as Trocchi states, ‘raise the consciousness’ of the participants.[lxiv] They are able to acknowledge by comparison the extent to which their expression is limited and conditioned by the operation of the system which the portfolio works in conjunction with. We see then an example of what Hal Foster describes as a subcultural practice ‘Neither in nor out of the social text’ yet ‘symptomatically expressing its limits and aporias’.[lxv]

And with that said we are able to return to the image of The Moving Times. As we saw the enactment of this ‘poster perversion’ on the underground did not take the form of the defacement of existing posters or a graffiti campaign but was instead manifested as a document submitted through appropriate advertising channels. Trocchi established an intimate connection with the very structure which was the target of his subversion. For Trocchi then it appears that Project Sigma was not an attempt to cultivate an outsider position but perhaps instead questions the idea of there being a division between inside and outside, culture and counterculture. Rather than creating difference it promoted in relation to the mainstream, as Foster notes, ‘disturbance, doubt’.[lxvi] Trocchi may not have succeeded in realising the extent of his ambitions (such as the use of found material artefacts as capital in order to buy an island), but what I hoped to have suggested in this paper is that the portfolio itself generated and instigated this desired for ambivalence.[lxvii] It was instrumental in establishing an active, correspondence between the major intellectuals of the sixties and in doing so also created what I regard as a highly sophisticate platform for cultural critique. As one final point, it is also worth noting that Sigma’s metacategorical resonance persists to this day as the portfolio continues to pose a problem for archivists. Trocchi is neither the author nor the editor of the collection, the documents themselves form neither a book nor a magazine and there is also confusion as to whether the appearance of the articles in the portfolio designates them as being published or unpublished.  Subsequently, 50 years after its instigation, Project Sigma in the shape of the Sigma Portfolio continues to generate a significant institutional disturbance. This to me at least constitutes a major achievement.


[i] Trocchi referred to himself as a ‘cosmonaut of inner space’ during the 1962 Edinburgh Writer’s Conference organised by John Calder and the phrase was subsequently used widely by kindred spirit and fellow conference delegate, William Burroughs.
[ii] Alexander Trocchi (ed.), The Moving Times Sigma Portfolio item number 1 (London: Sigma, 1964).
[iii] Trocchi, ‘Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint’ in The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds: A Trocchi Reader edited by Andrew Murray Scott (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1991), p.195. The essay was originally written in 1962, along with Sigma’s other primary statement, ‘The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds’. Both essays were originally published in the periodical New Saltire Review before being extensively reprinted, as Murray Scott reports, in publications such as International Situationiste Review, Anarchy, Los Angeles Free Press, Evergreen Review and City Lights Review (pp.227-8).
[iv] In his cover letter sent out to numerous individuals to accompany the Sigma document, ‘Potlatch’, Trocchi speaks of his intention to post The Moving Times ‘in underground stations, in coffee houses, art galleries, bookshops, wherever it can conveniently be exposed’ (London: Sigma, 1964.). Due to the ephemeral nature of the publication it is difficult to gain a sense of the actual scale of Trocchi’s distribution. However certain details are suggestive. In a letter sent to Lawrence Ferlinghetti dated 7th August 1964, Trocchi refers to the work of one ‘Sankey’ who was said to be ‘printing our first formal job: The Moving Times, a double crown poster to go up in subways, cafes and wherever’. This is likely to have been John Sankey of Villiers Press. A letter dated October 1st, 1964 again to Ferlinghetti updates him with the news that ‘Sigma is jumping’ and Trocchi states that he is ‘concerned with SF distribution of The Moving Times’ (unpublished letter part of the City Lights Archive, Bancroft Library, University of California). According to A Descriptive Catalogue of The William S. Burroughs Archive copies of The Moving Times were sent to and received by Burroughs (London: Am Here Books, 1973), p.342. It is safe to assume that the poster was also received by the other contributors and those identified in the Sigma document “List of Interested Persons’. Given this extensive, often transatlantic postal distribution it is entirely possible that the poster would have been distributed by Trocchi and his Sigma associates, Jeff Nuttall and Marcus Field to key countercultural centres in London such as the Indica Bookshop and Gallery, The Roundhouse, The Arts Lab and the ICA. I have found no specific evidence to prove that Trocchi succeeded in renting poster space on the Underground but this does not rule out the possibility of the poster being hand distributed on underground trains.
[v] Marcus Field, ‘Letter to Universities’ Sigma document number 16 (London: Sigma, 1964).
[vi] Trocchi, ‘Potlatch’ cover letter (London: Sigma, 1964).
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Trocchi, ‘Subscription Form’ Sigma document 12 (London: Sigma, 1964).
[ix] Trocchi, ‘Sigma: General Informations’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[x] Trocchi, ‘Potlatch’ (London: Sigma, 1964), p.1.
[xi] John Calder quoted in Allan Campbell and Tim Niel (eds.) A Life in Pieces: Reflections on Alexander Trocchi (Great Britain: Rebel Inc, 1997), p. 33.
[xii] Mick Farren, Give the Anarchist a Cigarette (London: Jonathan Cape, 2001), p. 33.
[xiii] Gavin Bowd, The Outsiders: Alexander Trocchi and Kenneth White (Glasgow: Arkos, 1998) p.11.
[xiv] Jim Backhouse, ‘The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds: Networking and Cultural Resistance from The Sigma Project to Luther Blissett’ (unpublished dissertation).
[xv] Anna Battista, ‘Young David: Spotlight on director David Mackenzie’ in Cloud 9 issue 12 (Great Britain: Cloud 9, 2003), p.10.
[xvi] Trocchi’s connection is referenced in several biographical accounts. See Andrew Murray Scott Alexander Trocchi: The Making of the Monster (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1991), p.76 and Bowd, pp.5-10. A clear indication of Trocchi’s status amongst the Situationists can be seen in the 1960 document ‘Hands off Alexander Trocchi’ by Guy Debord, Jacqueline de Jong and Asger Jorn. Written in response to his incarceration on drugs offences in New York, it identifies Trocchi as a ‘new type of artist, the pioneer of a new culture’. In Campbell and Neil, pp. 129-130.
[xvii] Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), p.377.
[xviii] Trocchi, ‘Manifesto Situationiste: Project Sigma Edition’ sigma document number 18 (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xix] Trocchi, ‘Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint’ in Murray Scott, p.193.
[xx] Ibid, p.198.
[xxi] Ibid, p. 199.
[xxii] Ibid, p. 198.
[xxiii] Trocchi is here referencing Debord’s theories in relation to urban organisation and town planning. Trocchi’s interpretation of these ideas are outlined in ‘Manifesto Situationiste: Project Sigma Edition’ translated by Trocchi and Paul A. Green (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xxiv] Bowd, p.10. Backhouse, p. 5.
[xxv] Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1968), p. 115.
[xxvi] A course list for the proposed Anti-University appeared in International Times, number 24, January 19th-Febuary 1st, 1968 highlighting concerns similar to those of Sigma. Courses were advertised in ‘Underground Communications Theory, Incitement of the Underground, and The Sociology of Guerrilla Warfare’ (London: Lovebooks, 1968), p.3.  A brief account appears in Jonathon Green, Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-1971 (London: Minerva, 1988), pp.238-9. Joseph Berke, the institution’s founder, provides the most comprehensive survey and analysis in Counterculture (London: Fire Books, 1969). Roberta Elezy’s essay within this volume ‘The Anti-University’ alludes to Trocchi’s work as if the ideas of ‘The Invisible Insurrection…’ are indistinguishable to the thinking behind the Anti-University, pp. 230-262. An interesting comparison can be found in Howard Slater and Jakob Jakobson’s essay ‘To Transfigure: To Organise’ (London: Break/Flow, 2002) available online at www.copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk/trans.html. Barry Miles provided a succinct summary of the chaotic nature of the enterprise during a personal interview, London, 6th December 2006. He stated that many of the courses advertised in International Times came to nothing. The close connection between Sigma and the counterculture as a whole was also illustrated in this interview with Miles describing how Trocchi used office space within the Indica Bookshop and Gallery.
[xxvii] Trocchi, ‘A Tactical Blueprint’, p.201.
[xxviii] Vikenoog describes these achievements in his essay ‘A Rap on the High Road to Happiness’ in Berke, pp.146-168. In addition to the Sigma Centre which acted as a performance and workshop space, Vikenoog also organised a mass poetry reading in Amsterdam’s Carre Theatre in February 1966. 26 poets performed to an audience of 2000. Vikenoog states that this happening was linked to ‘Trocchi’s sigmatic ideas’ (p.159). It is of interest to note that the Free University of Copenhagen still use Trocchi’s Sigma essays as integral part of its operating philosophy. 
[xxix] Trocchi. ‘A Tactical Blueprint’, p. 201.
[xxx] Ibid.
[xxxi] Ibid.
[xxxii] Trocchi, ‘Project Sigma: Cultural Engineering’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xxxiii] Trocchi, ‘A Tactical Blueprint’, p. 195.
[xxxiv] Ibid, p. 196.
[xxxv] ‘Arts Action Academia Manifesto’ full text available at www.imaginarymuseum.org/PSWAR/AAA01.HTML
[xxxvi] Trocchi, ‘Letter to Potential Subscribers’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xxxvii] R.D. Laing, ‘Psychotherapy: The Present Situation’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xxxviii] Ibid.
[xxxix] Michael McClure, ‘Revolt’ also published in Meat Science Essays (San Francisco: City Lights, 1963), pp.74-93.
[xl] Ibid.
[xli] Robert Bond, ‘Early Sinclair: Black Psychosis and the Primal’
[xlii] Bowd, p.10.
[xliii] Howard Slater, ‘Occasional Documents: Towards Situation’ (London: Break/Flow, 2001), p. 6.
[xliv] Trocchi, ‘Potlatch’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xlv] Trocchi, ‘List of Interested Persons’ (London: Sigma, 1964).
[xlvi] Trocchi moved from Paris to New York in 1956. He then moved onto Venice beach. His experiences in New York working on the Hudson River provided the basis for Cain’s Book, published by Grove Press in 1960. Berman however, was the first to publish material from the novel in Semina number 2, December 1957. Trocchi would later flee America due to drug charges. Information pertaining to Berman can be found in Michael Duncan (ed.) Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle (USA: university of California Press, 2006).
[xlvii] Rebecca Solnit The Secret Exhibition: Six Californian Artists of the Cold War Era (San Francisco: City Lights Press, 1990), p. 17.
[xlviii] Ibid.
[xlix] John Held, Mail Art: An Annotated Bibliography (USA: Scarecrow Press, 1991), p. xv.
[l] Ibid, p. xii.
[li] Eduardo Lipschutz, ‘Support the Revolution’ in Wallace Berman: Support the Revolution (Amsterdam: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1991), p. 6.
[lii] Solnit, p. 16.
[liii] Georges Bataille, ‘The Notion of Expenditure’ in The Bataille Reader edited by Fred Botting and Scott Wilson (Great Britain: Blackwell, 1991), p. 172.
[liv] Bataille, ‘The Gift of Rivalry: Potlatch’ in The Bataille Reader, p. 203.
[lv] Ibid.
[lvi] Solnit, p. 17.
[lvii] Discussed in Marcus, p.234.
[lviii] Ibid.
[lix] Trocchi, ‘The Invisible Insurrection’, p. 178.
[lx] Guy Blues description of mail art. In Held, p.xv.
[lxi] Handwritten note found amongst the Sigma Portfolio folder, UCL Special Collections, Small Press Archive.
[lxii] Ibid.
[lxiii] Trocchi in his Merlin essay, ‘Words and War’ sees international conflicts as largely the result of binary, ‘Manichean’ thinking. Merlin volume 2, number 3, Summer 1954.
[lxiv] Trocchi, ‘Letter to Potential Subscribers’.
[lxv] Hal Foster, Recodings; Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (USA: Bay Press, 1985), p.170.
[lxvi] Foster, p.171.
[lxvii] This utopianism is briefly alluded to in Farren, p.33.